Since 2017, Chris has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer in Litigation: General Commercial by Chambers USA, most recently in Band 2 in Ohio (2023). Chambers USA researchers noted, "Christopher Williams is well regarded for his expertise in commercial disputes as well as ERISA and healthcare litigation."
Clients interviewed by Chambers USA stated, "Chris gives good advice and he walks you through everything; he's already thinking of topic five when we're still on topic one. He's a tough but fair lawyer. He's got a good demeanor, he's a good advocate but also works to compromise. Chris takes a practical, problem-solving approach to litigation. He's a very strong litigator who isn't overly aggressive and gets good results. Chris is a phenomenal lawyer, and he is the ultimate relationship partner. He is very practical, thorough, and shows good judgment."
Since 2013, Chris has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Commercial Litigation and Litigation – ERISA. Chris has been recognized as the Best Lawyers 2024 "Lawyer of the Year" for Litigation - ERISA in Cleveland, Ohio.
Based on statewide voting by Ohio lawyers, Chris has been selected for inclusion by Ohio Super Lawyers to the "Top 50 Attorneys in Cleveland" list and to the "Top 100 Attorneys in Ohio" list for the past nine years.
Chris currently serves on the Boards of Directors of College Now of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Law Library, and the Ohio State Legal Services Association. For the past 17 years, since the program’s start, Chris has volunteered during the school year at Cleveland’s John Marshall High School as a U.S. government and law instructor as part of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s 3Rs (Rights-Responsibilities-Realities) program.
Chris served as Co-Chair of Calfee’s Litigation Department for 11 years (2011-2021), and he currently serves on the firm's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and as Chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee.
Honors & Recognitions
- Chambers USA, Litigation: General Commercial, Band 2, Ohio (2017-2023)
- Benchmark Litigation, "Litigation Star" – U.S. (National) and Ohio: Securities, Competition/Antitrust, Commercial, Professional Liability, and Healthcare Litigation (2012-2024)
- The Best Lawyers in America®, "Lawyer of The Year" for Litigation - ERISA in Cleveland, Ohio (2024, 2022, 2018, 2016)
- The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation and Litigation - ERISA (2013-2024)
- Ohio Super Lawyers, Business Litigation (2012-2023)
- Top 100 Attorneys in Ohio List
- Top 50 Attorneys in Cleveland List
- Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Volunteer Lawyers Program Honoree, 2014
J.D., Georgetown University, 1989
B.A., Miami University, 1986
- Currently (2023) representing the Plaintiffs, a California life sciences non-profit entity and related parties, in a multi-million dollar corporate governance, fiduciary duty, stock option, and contract dispute arising from the mismanagement of an Ohio company by certain conflicted and misbehaving owners and managers, which litigation has already forced the targets to seek protection under Delaware’s bankruptcy laws.
- Obtained a $6 million summary judgment decision from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 2021 against a host of Los Angeles-based real estate developers arising from the doomed sale-leaseback of a landmark Cleveland office building. The losing parties appealed to the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals but the appeal was unsuccessful and collection efforts are now underway against the Los Angeles parties.
- In 2020 obtained summary judgment for one of the nation’s largest retailers in a commercial lease dispute with an Ohio real estate developer arising from the Calfee client’s business decision to shutter one location in favor of a new location nearby. In addition to prevailing on the contract dispute, the federal court judgment also awarded attorneys’ fees to Calfee’s client.
- Culminating in a 2020 Ohio Supreme Court Order, successfully represented a Colorado public company and its former CEO in litigation matters resulting in judgments against and collections from an Ohio company totaling more than $5.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages, plus a $1.1 million sanctions and attorneys’ fees award, which award was affirmed by the 11th District Ohio Court of Appeals in 2019 and the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020.
- Between 2012 and 2018, represented two of Ohio’s four casinos, and obtained judgment in the casinos’ favor with respect to federal and state constitutional claims asserted by a national anti-gambling organization and its Ohio members. The losing plaintiffs filed five separate appeals, including twice to the Ohio Supreme Court and one failed effort before the US Supreme Court, and final judgment was entered in 2018.
- In 2016 represented one of Ohio’s largest steel companies in a multi-million-dollar three-week jury trial arising from a $100 million construction project gone awry.
- In 2014, defended a publicly held Ohio bank against federal court allegations of lending and collections fraud and negotiated a nuisance value settlement of plaintiff’s claims.
- In 2012, presented oral argument to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and obtained final judgment affirming the district court’s order dismissing the adverse parties’ federal claims arising from alleged fraud, RICO and conspiracy activities relating to failed Florida real estate investments.
- Successfully established a lack of personal jurisdiction in Ohio and obtained a final judgment in 2012 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for a large North American parking management company in a dispute with a competitor arising from their joint venture at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
- In 2011, summary judgment was awarded to Calfee’s publicly held client in a case alleging alter ego and corporate veil theories against the client arising from a failed Cleveland real estate venture.
- In 2010, represented a publicly owned Ohio bank in a class-action lawsuit arising from alleged false and fraudulent mass mailing advertisements; the case was dismissed with prejudice by the court with the granting of Calfee’s motion to dismiss.
- In 2010, obtained summary judgment for a plaintiff bank against one of Ohio’s largest auto dealers arising from a fraudulent loan and auto purchase scam
ERISA/Health Care Litigation
- Presently (in 2023) defending two putative class actions—one filed in 2017 on behalf of 600 Ohio governmental entities and the other filed in 2022 on behalf of more than 1000 non-government parties—in which the plaintiffs are asserting healthcare billing fraud, contract and statutory claims arising from the administration of self-insured healthcare plans over a 10-plus year period.
- In 2017 represented a publicly held Cleveland company in connection with multi-million-dollar claims against it arising from golden parachute/change-in-control agreements entered into with former company executives. Final judgment in favor of Calfee’s client was entered by the trial court, was affirmed by the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals, and the losing plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought Ohio Supreme Court review.
- In 2016, defended Ohio’s largest health care insurance company in separate, multi-million-dollar billing fraud lawsuits, one of which resulted in a final judgment disposing entirely of the plaintiffs’ $22 million causes of action, and the other of which resulted in a negotiated zero cost dismissal.
- In 2013, while representing the public company employer, obtained a federal court preliminary injunction freezing the current and prospective assets of all four adverse parties in a multi-million-dollar healthcare benefits dispute arising from the mismanagement and underfunding of welfare plans.
- In 2012, appeared for a preliminary injunction hearing in Newark, NJ federal court, the hometown of the opposing party, one of the world’s 10 largest insurers, and defeated the insurer’s request for an order prohibiting Calfee’s client from assigning to a third-party a multi-million-dollar administrative services agreement.
- Following extensive fact and expert discovery and summary judgment briefing before the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, favorably settled, in 2011, ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims filed by the bankruptcy trustee on behalf of an insolvent public company against its former officers and directors.
- In 2010, following oral argument, obtained affirmation from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of a summary judgment award in an ERISA case involving Plan Administrator discretion, the appropriate standard of appellate review and the interplay between written Plan terms and alleged conflicting oral representations.
- In 2009, finalized a $27 million settlement against an international financial adviser arising out of the Calfee pension plan client’s losses due to investments made in Bernard Madoff-related funds.
- In 2009, on cross-motions for summary judgment filed after three days of evidentiary hearing, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the administration of a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
- In 2008, appeared in Dayton federal court for a class-action fairness hearing and reached an agreement to settle on favorable terms ERISA and RICO class-action claims arising from pension plan consulting and actuarial services.
- Arguing ERISA preemption and standing issues before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005, obtained judgment affirming the Louisiana district court’s summary judgment on behalf of three clients. The companies had been sued in Louisiana state court for $2.4 million, arising from their alleged violations of Louisiana’s bad faith insurance statute.
- In 2005, obtained an American Arbitration Association award on behalf of Ohio’s largest Medicaid healthcare provider following state court litigation and a multi-day arbitration hearing arising from Medicaid billing fraud and breach of contract allegations against the client.